William Gonson (Vice-Admiral)

Vice-Admiral Sir William Gonson (1482–1544), was a private Merchant and Shipbuilder and Sailor who later became an important Naval Administrator and Naval Judge of the English Navy who served under King Henry VIII. He simultaneously held three of the four Offices of the Clerks of the Kings Marine from 1523 until 1537.

1) Biography

1.1) Naval Career

During the Tudor Period William Gonson's early career was as a private Merchant and Shipbuilder in the Royal Dockyards before he began his naval career. He was given command of the HMS Mary Grace in April 1513 as captain. In 1523 he was appointed Clerk of the King's Ships a post he held jointly with Thomas Jermyn until 1533. In 1524 he was also appointed Treasurer of the Marine until 1544 William was a naval administrator of the English navy for over twenty years, he also held the title of Keeper of the Storehouses at Erith Dockyard and Deptford Dockyard from 1524 to 1537 in effect he held the posts of three of the later chief officers of the Council of the Marine. He was appointed by Henry VIII to command the Vice-Admiralty of Norfolk and Vice-Admiralty of Suffolk in 1536. William eventually fell from grace and committed suicide in 1544 leaving the navy disorganized. It took two years for Henry to reorganize control and future development of the navy . He was probably along with William of Wrotham, and Sir Robert de Crull one of the three most important administrators of naval affairs of the English Navy prior to 1546.

1.2) Personal

William Gonson was born in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire in England he was the son of Christopher Gonson and Elizabeth Gonson (nee: Trussell), and brother of Bartholomew Gonson. He married Bennett Walters and together they had six sons Anthony, Arthur, Benjamin, Christopher, David and Richard. They also had four daughters Avis, Elizabeth, Margaret and Thomasine.

His son Benjamin Gonson, who would go on to hold a career in the English navy and also became Treasurer of the Navy.

2) Appointments held

  1. Captain HMS Mary Grace (1513)
  2. Clerk of the King's Ships (1523-1533)
  3. Keeper of the Storehouses (1524-1537)
  4. Treasurer of the Marine (1524-1544)
  5. Vice-Admiral of Suffolk (1536-1544)
  6. Vice-Admiral of Norfolk (1536-1544)

3) Sources

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Gonson
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